Henrik Poulsen, Director of Winemaking / Executive Manager
As winemaker for Acumen, Henrik Poulsen has a very clear focus: make wine that is an honest and joyous expression of the vineyard. Part of this preoccupation lies with his own winemaking philosophy, but it is equally a nod to the distinctive nature of Acumen’s organically-farmed vineyards on Atlas Peak. The high-elevation climate, volcanic soils and long growing season provide Acumen with fruit that has fully mature flavors while retaining complex structure due to naturally higher levels of tannin, a quality that is prized by Henrik.
“The wines have backbone, but are not over the top, notes Poulsen. The key is to reach perfect phenolic ripeness in the vineyard and then carefully monitor extraction of tannins from grape seeds and skins during fermentation. For Acumen, we’re looking to make wines that capture the finest qualities of our high-elevation, hillside vineyard while hopefully also aiding in raising more awareness of the great wines from Atlas Peak AVA in general.”
Henrik Poulsen has intimate knowledge of Acumen’s vineyards as he first started working with the fruit in 2006 while then employed at another Napa Valley winery. He was captivated by the vineyard from the start and worked very closely with winemaker Denis Malbec for them together to craft Acumen’s first vintages. They shared a love for vineyards and a goal of making classic wines that express both the unique terroir and an "Old World" balance.
A native of Denmark, Henrik Poulsen was trained and educated in fine wine retail in Copenhagen before setting out on a mission to hopefully some day achieve the prestigious title Master of Wine (MW). This pursuit initially lead him to France for a 13-month stay in Bordeaux prior to arriving in Napa Valley. His professional experience here involves six vintages at Newton Vineyards, seven vintages as Assistant Winemaker at Alpha Omega Winery prior to joining Acumen in 2013.
Garrett Buckland, Viticulturist
Garrett Buckland draws on extensive experience and deep knowledge of grape growing in the Napa Valley for his management of the Acumen vineyards. He grew up in a Napa Valley grape growing family – his father owns Buckland Vineyard Management – and has worked at every level of growing ultra-premium wine grapes, giving him keen insight into Acumen’s vineyard sites and how to manage the land and cultivate its grapes for world-class Cabernet Sauvignon from Atlas Peak.
For Buckland, there are certain elemental factors that contribute to a vineyard’s success – soils, drainage, elevation, microclimate – and he believes with great conviction that Acumen’s vineyards on Atlas Peak possess the ideal qualities for top-tier Cabernet Sauvignon. But there is another dimension of vineyard management that he feels elevates a site to the highest levels of quality: people. “It takes a dedicated team that is intimately familiar with every vine. We have a full-time crew of vineyard professionals and they touch a vine 40 times in a year. They know what’s best for our vineyards.”
Buckland oversees all aspects of Acumen’s prized Attelas and Edcora vineyards on Atlas Peak, which are farmed organically to produce wines of ideal ripeness, depth, complexity and phenolic concentration. He and winemaker Henrik Poulsen are aligned in their goal of having earlier ripening grapes with fully mature flavors, and he is unabashed in his belief that Atlas Peak provides the perfect location to achieve this.
Many top wineries have turned to Buckland for his expertise in planting or managing their vineyards, including Araujo, Warren Winiarski, Realm, Knight’s Bridge, Baldacci Family and Kathryn Hall. He has a degree in viticulture and enology from U.C. Davis and serves as president of the Napa Valley Grape Growers.